Let's get ready to rumble. Per POLITICO, the Obama administration declined to challenge the latest unfavorable ruling to hit the individual mandate, signaling that the case is headed to the Supremes. The Department of Justice had until 5PM today to file paperwork requesting that the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta rehear the case, but the deadline came and went without a peep from Holder and pals.
Speculation abounds regarding the motive for the move:
Opponents of the law had expected the government to ask for the so-called en banc hearing to delay a ruling by the Supreme Court.
“The president and solicitor general deserve full credit for refusing to employ delaying tactics in this pressing constitutional controversy,” said Randy E. Barnett, a Georgetown Law professor who is working with the plaintiffs.
But former acting Solicitor General Walter Dellinger, who has worked on briefs in support of the legislation, said the move should be read as a sign of confidence from the administration.
“This confirms what I had already concluded: That the government is confident that it’s going to prevail in the Supreme Court and would like to have a decision sooner rather than later,” Dellinger told POLITICO.
The issue of the constitutionality of the individual mandate has been widely expected to be decided by the Supreme Court. The key question has been the timing. The Justice Department’s apparent decision to ask the Supreme Court to review the case greatly increases the chances the issue will be heard in the 2011-12 term, which begins Monday.
Of course, if the Court picks it up this coming term, the case will likely be decided during the 2012 election season--and the winning side would have a major leg up in the race. Obama must feel the court will uphold the law--his signature accomplishment as president--and that the Court's favorable ruling will give his reelection campaign a badly-needed boost.
Political implications aside, the very nature of Congressional power hangs in the balance, as this decision will determine whether or not the federal goverment's power to regulate commerce includes the right to force participation in the market.
Aside from the fact that such direct government intervention is anathema to the founding of this country, I can't say that I trust a government incapable of managing its own money to tell me how to spend mine.